Class of 84 (United States, 14 min 30 sec)

Directed by: Alex Salsberg, Joe Andrade

Cast: Harley Harrison Cast Jonathan Katz Cast

Teenager Mike feels smothered by his overprotective mom’s extensive safety rules, until he uncovers a horrifying curse that puts her in immediate danger. With the help of a mysterious shut-in named Robbie Zygowski (voiced by Dr. Katz’s Jonathan Katz), Mike must decide whether or not he can break his mother’s rules to save her life.

Review:

“Class of ‘84” is a funny, quirky animated short that will make one wish that they too could live in the whimsical world of the characters. Director Alex Salsberg grounds the story by keeping the setting simple, except he incorporates a lot of clever exaggeration and dynamic body language to keep the story interesting.

A great deal of the humor is visual. A range of sound effects and funky close ups add vigor to the deceivingly simple plot. Salsberg pays special attention to the each character’s persona to create the world where the characters live. It’s interesting to see how teenage Mike’s mother’ opaque glasses do not reveal her eyes at any point in the film, yet there’s really no need for her to show her eyes. Her safety - centered dogma, which she seems to religiously live by, combined with her exaggerated facial movements make her someone the audience can easily identify with. Every mother can identify with Mike’s mother’s overprotective regard for her son to some degree.

The animation style is also worth noting for its ingenious simplicity. It lets the audience breathe. Scenes almost never have any straight lines or hash tones that pull the viewer’s attention away from the story. This allows Salsberg to subtly add in different types of textures throughout the film that make the setting more aesthetically interesting to look at, while at the same time let the audience keep up with the swift changes in scene.

The pace of the film is moderately quick, but it slows down just enough for the dramatic moments. The audience does not get invested in Robbie Zygowski’s sad backstory for long before a hilarious packaging for a ‘sex robot of the month’ looms in the background of his room. These dramatic moments are further emphasized through sound and music efficiently placed to match the mood of the atmosphere. An ominous violin and church bells adds just the right amount of impending doom to keep viewers invested in the story.